21
Dec
Klipsch-Image-S4A-in-ear-headphones1

I'll be the first to admit, I'm a big fan of Klipsch. I like their style, their sound signature, and their products generally. I started with a ProMedia 2.1 computer speaker setup, and have since graduated to a pair of their reference bookshelf speakers, and I've been pleased the whole way through. I had never, however, tried their headphones. Until recently, Klipsch's in-line control headphones designed for smartphones had only fully worked with iOS devices. With the S4A, that changed - it's the first Klipsch headphone designed specifically for use with Android devices.

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What's the word? They're definitely a Klipsch product. Deep, resonating bass and bright mids and highs bring your favorite tracks to life in a way few other headphones can. That's not to say they're superior to other high-end headphones, necessarily, but more that they have a particularly unique character.

The S4A also has a fairly awesome trick up its sleeve, too, in the form of the Klipsch Control app, allowing you to customize your headphone experience with all kinds of options. It's a true value-added feature for the S4A, and is definitely not something to be ignored.

For $100, the Klipsch S4A isn't a headphone you can really go wrong with. Sure, there are probably headphones with better fidelity and clarity around this price point, but none of them have the comfort, added functionality, and character of the S4A's.

Klipsch S4A Android-Optimized Headphones

  • Price: $100 (MSRP and street price)
  • What is it? Klipsch's first Android-friendly headphones with in-line controls - these are a high-end pair of earbuds with great sound and supreme comfort.
  • Why is it special? Klipsch prides itself on the comfort and compactness of its in-ear headphones, and its Klipsch Control app gives it a significant edge over similarly priced competitors.

The Good

  • Excellent sound - deep, accurate bass, and bright mids and highs - performance at least commensurate with the $100 price tag.
  • Probably one of the most comfortable pairs of in-ear headphones you'll ever wear, thanks to their light weight and Klipsch's patented ovular (rather than circular) earbud tips.
  • Awesome Klipsch Control app makes your headphones do all sorts of cool things - volume adjustment, pause/play, skip track, launch a voice search, launch your music app, there's a fair number of things to tweak.
  • Did I mention they were comfortable?

The Not So Good

  • Fidelity and balance are noticeably inferior to higher-end in-ear headphones, though this may or may not actually be something you'll care about.
  • The in-line control button is awfully picky about when it chooses to respond, requiring slow, deliberate presses for even triple-click actions. It's so slow that I thought it wasn't working at first.
  • The Klipsch Control app requires you to pick a default music app for the in-line controls to actually work with it. So that's pretty limiting if you consistently use two or three.
  • If you browse the market, there's numerous complaints about the Klipsch Control app on certain devices in regard to functionality.

Comfort And Design

Klipsch-Image-S4A-in-ear-headphones1I love wearing the Klipsch S4A's. They are, hands down, the most comfortable in-ear headphones I have ever worn. I've heard that Klipsch's "step up" from the S4 line, the X10's, are even more comfortable, but unfortunately there's no Android-friendly version of those available. Still, the S4A's are very, very easy-wearing. You'll barely notice them, aside from the fact that they're pumping rockin' tunes into your ears.

As far as design goes, Klipsch tries to make their earbuds pretty small and light, so they're definitely on the littler side. They're small, sleek, and somewhat unique, given Klipsch's ovular earbud tips.

These earbud tips actually have a patent, and Klipsch claims they're a big part of what makes their headphones so comfortable and easy to wear. You get 4 pairs with your S4A's, along with a clip for the in-line microphone, whose placement on the right earbud's cable puts it fairly close to your mouth without the clip anyway.

Controls And Microphone

The Klipsch S4A is definitely, to an extent, reliant on the Klipsch Control app. It's a great piece of software when it works, and luckily for me, it seems to work flawlessly on my DROID BIONIC.

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As you can see, the app lets you customize all sorts of things. You can determine the volume your phone is set to when the headset is plugged in, what % of the maximum volume to make the maximum while using the headphones, what actions each number of clicks on the function button will map to, as well as set your phone to auto-launch your preferred music app when you plug your S4A's in. This really is a great idea.

But judging from Market comments, Klipsch hasn't exactly been fastidious about making sure its app works on all Android phones properly. To purchase an S4A expecting this compatibility, and then to not receive it, would definitely be frustrating. As I said, it works for me on my BIONIC, but users of older or more obscure phones might have cause to be wary on this point.

The microphone on the S4A's works decently, though persons on the other end did comment about my seeming a bit "distant," not necessarily quiet, just a little more echo than usual.

Sound

Klipsch products have a reputation for their distinctive sound characteristics. Rather than being particularly flat or balanced, most Klipsch speakers are noted for having a particularly bright, resonating tone with deep and accurate bass. That's not to say the S4A's are inaccurate or lacking in fidelity, so much as they aren't what you'd call in-ear "monitors." Klipsch definitely adds flourishes to your music that you would not otherwise hear, but those additions are usually quite enjoyable.

In particular, live tracks come alive on the S4A's, gaining brightness and depth that their recordings may not fully express on their own. Music with a lot of bass or complex low-frequency arrangements really shine on the S4A's, too, as you can really hear the bass notes underlying your favorite songs with clarity and deep, accurate resonance. If you want a good earbud for workout, dance, or any other high-energy music, the S4A's are a truly superb choice.

For lower-key genres, the S4A's still sound great. While they may not have the fidelity or bring out all the subtle nuances of more expensive in-ear monitors, they add a character that makes for a unique and enjoyable listening experience you won't find anywhere else.

Conclusion

The Klipsch S4A's are a great in-line control headphone (if your device works with the Klipsch Control app). For many, the S4A's will probably provide a more enjoyable listening experience than more accurate, but less energetic in-ear monitors that may be more expensive, but lack that distinctive "Klipsch sound."

They'll also lack the comfort of the S4A's, which I would say isn't rivaled by any other in-ear headphone I have ever used. They really are that comfortable. For $100, the S4A's are a difficult product to overlook in any serious search for a high-end Android headset, and are worthy of consideration even for those looking to spend a little more on their next pair of headphones.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Daniel

    Indeed a good review

  • Jodie

    awesome!!!! those are the headphones i got with my transformer bundle :D

    o and they do work GREAT, had them for 8 months or so and great sound quality and no problems. glad they came out with the app

  • http://gthing.net Sam

    I have a pair of S4's. If you want to spend nearly half the price, they're the same headphones they just don't have the headset and button control.

    I've been very happy with them so far, but it's only been a few months. The real thing about earbuds is how long they last.

  • Will

    You can also get https://market.android.com/details?id=com.kober.headset&hl=en This will let you do the same thing with any headset.

  • Tom Canedy

    Great headphones!!!! Works perfect with HTC inspire. Great review.

    • harsh

      is it works perfect with htc sensation xe

  • Diego Marin

    I don't know buy this or the etymotic research hf2?
    Help me.

    • David Ruddock

      It depends. Do you care more about comfort and functionality, or about sound fidelity and clarity?

      If comfort and functionality, the S4As are the better choice. They still sound great (you might even like the sound better, it's more bass-heavy and bright), and are a bit cheaper.

      If you want the *best* audio possible at this price range (~$100-125), the hf2s are better. They're very clear, and extremely high fidelity. Also, if you care about noise cancellation, the hf2's are significantly better in that area as well.

      • Diego Marin

        Ok, thanks and great review.

  • damien

    Great review. I also didn't realize headsets were OS or device specific! Bummer.

  • Kent

    great review indeed. i wish they had more than one button. its too much work to keep pressing a single button to perform all the functions.

  • http://www.monsterbeatbuy.com xiaocao
  • http://www.monsterbeatbuy.com xiaocao
    • Hillbilly2163hillbilly greg

      TThe beats don't come close to the S4A s. All you get is a name with the beats. I couldn't believe the lack of quality in the beats after all the hype. They should be $5

  • Audirtdi

    Do they work with the Sony xperia play?

  • http://twitter.com/ealltech ealltech
  • loony2nz

    works fine on my Verizon Galaxy Nexus.

  • loony2nz

    Had these. Lost them recently. not sure i'd buy them again. As stated, the button is EXTREMELY finicky as to when it wants to work. I think it has to do more with the Android OS than the hardware. Just my guess though. And the buds CONSTANTLY fall out..I have to really shove them into m canals to make them stay. And yes, I've used various sizes. The ones that I thought fit perfectly while totally still, doesn't stay while in motion.

    There's a new version of these out for the same price, but in looking at the pics, I don't see the fit being any better than the previous version.

    I'm looking elsewhere (for something much cheaper too).

    Phone: Verizon Galaxy Nexus
    OS: JellyBean (AOKP)

  • http://www.facebook.com/linnea.hallstrom.77 Linnea Hallström

    hi just bought these and i can't get the volume function to work... instead when I hold the button for a few sec the voice controlled Google pops up. have anyone else experienced this problem? (I'm using a galaxy s3)